Bookies celebrate underdog Trump’s election win
Bookmakers were celebrating Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential election as around 75% of all stakes were wagered on defeated candidate Hillary Clinton.
In betting trends that mirrored the Brexit referendum vote in the UK in June, Clinton – who had led the race for more than a year – remained the clear favourite even after many polling offices had closed.
Betfair said that when early exit polls in Florida suggested she would win the state she was backed at 1-10 and Trump was a 10-1 shot.
However, when news began to break of Trump's lead in perceived Democrat states such as Michigan and Wisconsin at around 2am (GMT), bookies and exchange bettors ran for cover.
Bookmakers in the UK took more than £200 million ($250.0 million / €222.5 million) in bets on the election outcome – making it the biggest political event in gambling history and more than twice as big as the Brexit vote.
Betfair told iGamingBusiness.com that just under £200 million was wagered on the outright market, which was around £80 million more than the Brexit vote.
William Hill took £4 million on the outcome of the US election – a record total for any political betting event – and said £20m was wagered with traditional bookies.
“Donald Trump started as a 150-1 no hoper, but was very well backed, albeit in smaller amounts than we accepted for long-time favourite Hillary Clinton,” said Hill's spokesman Graham Sharpe
“This campaign absolutely decimated all previous political betting records and shows what a popular betting subject politics is.
“The US Election statistics reflect almost identically the division of stakes and bets for Brexit.
“The odds on the day for the two candidates were almost identical to the Remain/Leave odds on EU Ref day; Brexit became favourite for the first time just before 2am on EU Ref night, Trump at just after 2am on polling night.”
Politics attracting “unprecedented interest”
The fact that the polls were so out touch with the results was due to polling companies not explaining what the margins of error factored into them could mean, which on average is 3.5% either way of the poll predictions, Mike Smithson, editor of Politicalbetting.com, told iGaming Business.
“Most of the punters’ action went on Trump in the run up to the vote yesterday, but this was as much to do with the better odds offered on the underdog,” he added.
As for the betting sector, a new era politics; more volatile and unpredictable than at any other time in the past 70 years, is attracting a new sort of punter who is interested in politics and happy to bet on it.
With general elections coming up in France and Germany in 2017, Smithson said the French event usually gets a strong amount of betting traction and if National Front leader Marine Le Pen is in the second round run off, as is widely predicted, “there will be major interest in betting circles, not on the scale of a Trump victory, but still big”.
But while the favourite's defeat was a positive result for bookies, they will be making some big pay-outs today.
One Betfair customer won more than £2 million from exchange users on a series of bets placed on Trump over the course of the campaign, while Hill's is paying out more than £100,000 to two bettors. Paddy Power made the mistake of paying out early on Clinton, as it settled bets worth £800,000 as early as mid-October.
On the flip side, Hill's last month revealed that a woman had put almost £500,000 on a Clinton victory at 4-11, while Paddy Power will be counting the cost of paying out early on Clinton winning.
Betfair said there was evidence that punters who had made money on Brexit returned to the exchange to back outsider Trump.
Barry Orr, a spokesperson for Betfair, said: “Brexit was still firmly in bettors’ minds, and those who made a killing from the result in June backed Trump to come through for them again, with over 67% of Brexit backers putting their faith in Trump.”
Spread betting operator Sporting Index said it was hoping that the final election results will give Trump as big a margin of victory as possible.
It reported “unprecedented interest… and a huge number of bets were taken after 10pm on Tuesday all the way through to the early hours”.
Ed Fulton, political trading spokesman for Sporting Index, said: “Five months of hard work has gone into our election book, covering all of the scandals, midnight suspensions of markets and more.
“The most divisive election in history has also proved to be one of the most volatile.
“While many expected Hillary to walk away with the keys to the White House, we were happy to take her on and that has paid off; the further Trump wins by the better for us.”
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